Zion Williamson scores 34, Pelicans top Clippers 112-104 to tighten race for No. 4 seed

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Zion Williamson scored 34 points and the New Orleans Pelicans beat Los Angeles 112-104 on Friday night, pulling within two games of the Clippers for the No. 4 seed in the Western Conference.

New Orleans also won the season series, 3-1. The fourth and fifth seeds meet in the first round of the NBA playoffs, and the Pelicans would own the regular-season, head-to-head tiebreaker over the Clippers, if it came to that in mid-April.

Spending most of the game as New Orleans’ primary ball-handler, Williamson initiated the Pelicans’ offense and ultimately took over the game, scoring time after time on explosive moves to the hoop that were both powerful and shifty.

Trey Murphy III scored 14 points and Brandon Ingram 13 for New Orleans, which made five 3-pointers in the fourth quarter to keep the Clippers at bay.

Paul George scored 26 points and Kawhi Leonard had 23 for Los Angeles, which played without James Harden (left shoulder strain) for a second straight game. Harden has averaged 17.4 points this season.

Norman Powell scored 15 for the Clippers, the 51st time in his 65 games played this season that he’s had at least 10 points coming off the bench.

The Clippers were as close as 100-96 after Ivica Zubac’s inside basket with 6:21 left. But the Pelicans did not allow the game to get any tighter. Williamson responded with a short hook shot, Ingram hit a 3 and Larry Nance Jr., who had 12 points, scored two clutch baskets inside before Williamson finished it off with a driving layup.


Clippers: Host Atlanta on Sunday night.

Pelicans: Host the Portland Trail Blazers on Saturday night.


AP NBA: https://apnews.com/hub/NBA

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